WASHINGTON, D.C. — Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and the Republican Party are getting an earful from Democratic congressional members and Hispanic leaders and organizations for saying they do not trust the president to enforce immigration laws and forecasting that immigration reform isn’t likely to pass this year, if ever.
Fair Immigration Reform Movement spokesperson Kica Matos said in a press release that FIRM’s efforts last year to gain House Republican support for reform were unproductive. “Persuasion got us only so far,” said Matos. “From now on, any lawmakers who do not support it should expect relentless confrontations that will escalate until they agree to do so.”
America’s Voice spokesperson Frank Sherry stated that Republicans should recognize that selecting a presidential candidate next year could create serious division within the GOP. “It’s now or never for the Republican Party,” he said, and to oppose reform carries the risk being perceived not only as anti-Hispanic, but also against Asians and other immigrants.
In his speech to other House members, Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) warned, “The cost to the GOP politically is just too high if the GOP-controlled House blocks legislation this year.”
Co-producer and co-director of Harvest of Empire Eduardo López told Hispanic Link that Boehner’s attack on the president’s honesty is “laughable on its face. There is no credibility to the claim that President Obama won’t follow immigration law when he has deported more Latinos than anyone else in history,” López said. “Only peaceful confrontation will move the needle.”
“It’s time for House Republicans to release a bill,” demanded Lorella Praeli of Connecticut and member of United We Dream.
Seventy United We Dream members came with their families from Ohio, Virginia, Delaware and Maryland to the Rayburn House Office across Independence Avenue from the Capitol a week after Obama’s State of the Union address. Some remained for a while longer. “Stand up, fight back,” they shouted in protest to the large number of deportations.
“Speaker Boehner, the people from Ohio’s 8th district are here to demand action. Talk is cheap and details matter,” Praeli said. Others from the district complained that Boehner would not open his doors or listen when they requested to meet with him.
Flory Chaver walked and found bus rides from Comayagua, Honduras, to the U.S.-Mexico border when she was 17. She laughs at the
memory of waking up with a cow staring her in the face at one of several ranches where she stayed overnight, and on another day battling through the current of the Rio Bravo.
The 25-year-old mother of two children who are U.S. citizens, expressed her frustration with how legislatures play politics with people’s lives. “We are living a nightmare. It is not easy when you do not know if you are going to get back home or be arrested for not having documents.”
Now residing in Ohio, she participates in events with United We Dream, hoping ultimately to prompt Congress to legalize her situation. “We want respect as human beings.”
Jeh Johnson, Secretary of Homeland Security, stressed that undocumented immigrants need to be brought forward, pay taxes and fines, do a background check, then get a 13-year path to citizenship. It is a problem that needs fixing. Reform should not be a method of punishment, but a way to get right with the law.
“They are not going away and they are not going to self-deport,” he added “I thought that was a thoughtful set of principles that the speaker and others spent a lot of time thinking of.”
Editor’s note: This story was previously published on HispanicLink.